Aerosol is any small particle of matter that rests suspended in the atmosphere. Natural sources, such as deserts, create some aerosols; consumption of fossil fuels and industrial activity create other aerosols. All the microscopic aerosol particles add up to a large amount of material floating in the atmosphere. You can see the particles in the haze that floats over polluted cities. Beyond this visible effect, aerosols can actually lower temperatures. They do this by blocking, or scattering, a portion of the sun's energy from reaching the surface. Because of this influence, scientists study the physical properties of atmospheric aerosols. Reliable numerical models for atmospheric aerosols play an important role in research.